PORTLAND, Maine — A veteran basketball coach for Deering High School has died.
Freshman basketball coach Brendan Conway, 34, died suddenly while playing basketball Thursday.
Deering athletic director Melanie Craig said the staff at Deering High School wasn’t aware of any health issues that may have led to Conway’s death at such a relatively young age.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” Craig said. “How are you supposed to explain this to students when you don’t have any words as an adult? Everyone is just shell-shocked and devastated at this point.”
Craig said the school administration became aware of Conway’s death early on Friday and “immediately mobilized our crisis response team.” The team, composed of coaching staff, administrators and social workers, met with student athletes at the start of the school day.
“We had the tough duty of sharing that with the boys and making sure they’re aware of the resources that are available to them,” Craig said. “Obviously, our job, at this point, is to make sure we’re taking care of our kids and taking care of our coaching staff. This is a very, very close coaching staff.”
In addition to coaching the Deering freshman boys team, Conway served as an associate broker for Conway Realty of Maine. According to his biography on the company website, Conway had deep roots in the state.
A native Mainer, Conway grew up in Portland. He graduated from Deering High School in 1997, where he served as captain of his basketball and tennis teams.
Afterward, Conway attended Bates College in Lewiston, where he earned a degree in psychology in 2001. Later, he earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern Maine.
He also taught special needs students at the Collaborative School in New Gloucester and at Pond Cove Elementary School in Cape Elizabeth.
Craig said Conway was genuine, likable and a “Deering boy, through and through.”
“Brendan’s just one of those guys who lights up a room,” she said. “His commitment and passion for youth was evident anytime you had conversation with him.
“He was just full of life, full of energy and just a positive presence. This is a tremendous loss on a lot of levels.”